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New ultralight hand with better functionality and flexibility developed

by Medindia Content Team on  September 8, 2005 at 5:39 PM General Health News   - G J E 4
New ultralight hand with better functionality and flexibility developed
A new ultra light hand, called the 'Southampton Remedi-Hand' has been developed by scientists that can mimic the movement in a real hand better than any currently available.
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The human hand has 27 bones and can make a huge number of complex movements and actions. The artificially developed hand is dependent on 6 sets of motors and gears and is designed in such a way so as to enable independent movement of all the five fingers.

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Every year 200 people in the UK lose their hands. Common causes include motorbike accidents and industrial incidents. Currently available prosthetic hands are either simple mimics that look like a hand but don't move or moving hands that have a simple single-motor grip.

The hand can be connected to muscles in the arm via a small processing unit and is controlled by small contractions of the muscles, which move the wrist. To mimic the functioning of the human thumb, the Remedi-Hand uses two motors - one to allow it to rotate and one to allow it to flex. The artificial limb offers superior flexibility and a great versatility in function.

With the hand one can clutch objects such as a ball, or can move the thumb out to one side and grip objects with the index finger in the way like opening a lock with a key.

Moreover, one can even have a feel of the power grip - like the one while using a hammer or a microphone.

Every year 200 people in the UK lose their hands. Common causes include motorbike accidents and industrial incidents. Currently available prosthetic hands are either simple mimics that look like a hand but don't move or moving hands that have a simple single-motor grip.

Heavy prosthetics can be extremely uncomfortable and cause injury to the area where it joins with the arm. The new hand they've developed is only 400g (even lighter that a real hand which weighs on average 500g).

One of the key differences between mechanical, artificial, limbs is that they aren't able to sense pressure or touch in the same way human limbs can. The next stage of the research is to integrate the latest sensors technology with the Remedi-Hand to create a 'clever' hand which has better functionality and move like a real hand, but which can also sense how strongly it's gripping an object or whether an object is slipping.

Dr Chappell, the brain behind the masterpiece development said: "The aim is to create a hand with the sort of functionality a human hand has but also a sense of touch. This will let the hand know how tightly to grip an object like a coffee cup without dropping it, but not so tightly that it's crushed. It'll also have an integrated slip-sensor, which will tell the hand if something is beginning to slip out of its grip so it can grip slightly harder. It'll be quite a clever system."

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